Wright Brothers Day

The Romance of Aeronautics book cover
The Romance of Aeronautics spine

In honor of the first plane in flight, let’s look at one of our rare books from the Benjamin Monroe Anderson Collection on the History of Aeronautics. 

The Romance of Aeronautics, published in 1912, by Charles Cyril Turner (1870-1952) is a children’s book recounting the history of flight, which was still an incredibly new technology.

The book contains a wealth of images including drawings and photographs of different contraptions. Excuse the odd angles for the photographs the book’s binding is quite tight.

Caption reads: Walker's Flying Machine. Illustration of man in birdish flying contraption.
Captions read: Pilcher's Glider, 'The Gull'; Lilienthal's Biplane Glider Soaring; Pilcher's Glider, 'The Hawk'. On this machine the Great Pioneer was killed on October 2nd, 1899." Three images of men in flying contraptions.
Captions read: "The Cody Biplane: Cody's romantic history and his struggles as an inventor are given on p. 159.; Ploughing the Air: A Hanriot monoplane flying over a farm at Weybridge." Two images of men flying contraptions.
"Flying Round the Eiffel Tower: A daring flight by the Comte de Lambert on a Wright biplane in the early days of aviation." One image.

During the 1923-1924 school year, the headmaster, A.S. Langton, gifted this book to W. Baker. The Kimberley British Evening School might now be the Kimberley School in Nottingham, although their website does not contain its history and the Wikipedia page lists that the school opened in 1946. As noted above, the book is in really good condition, so perhaps young Baker was not a fan of the topic.

Colorful book plate.

As always, here’s an interesting list of other books in The Romance series.

List of books

“The Snow Storm: A Christmas Story”

Red cover with gold inlay illustration and text reading: "The Snow Storm: A Christmas Story by Mrs. Gore"

In 1840, Catherine Grace Frances Gore published The Snow Storm, A Christmas Story under the name Mrs. Gore. She was a prolific “silver fork writer” who chronicled the lives of the upper class and aristocracy.

Text reading: "The Snow Storm, A Christmas Story. by Mrs. Gore with illustrations by Geo. Cruikshank

Here is a signature from the first owner, Miss M. Brown. Later owner, F. S. Bradburn looks to be a rare book collector and has a connection with emeritus professor, Dr. Robert Patten, who helped the Woodson acquire books for the Cruikshank rare book collection from which the book comes.

Right handwriting reads: Miss M. Brown, Christmas 1941.

This 2nd edition of her book dedicated to her son contains illustrations by George Cruikshank.

Dedication to Augustus Frederick Wentworth Gore. Accept, my dear boy, as a Christmas gift, a story written at your request, and expressly for your amusement, by your affectionate mother, C.F.G.
Frontispiece reads: "Old Reveley bringing forward Charley Ribston. P 230."
Frontispiece reads: “Old Reveley bringing forward Charley Ribston. P 230.”
Text reads: "'My own work Grandfather may it bring you a merry Christmas.' P. 91."
Text reads: “‘My own work Grandfather may it bring you a merry Christmas.’ P. 91.”
Text reads: "'This is the place I spoke of my Lady.' P 125."
Text reads: “‘This is the place I spoke of my Lady.’ P 125.”

While it might only be me, I really love the advertisements for books by the publisher. It seems like there a lot of coffee table books listed. Fisher’s Drawing-Room Scrap Book is available via Harvard via the Hathi Trust.

List of books published by Fisher, and Son & Co.
List of books published by Fisher, and Son & Co.

The Ingoldsby Legends: 1929 Edition


Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve been showcasing our editions of The Ingoldsby Legends. This time we’re going to look at the 1929 one. It is really a treat.


There’s our little friend the bird. He showed up in the 1840 first edition.


Caption: “Hey! up the chimney lass! Hey after you!”



Title: “Around, and around, and around they go.”


Caption: “The little man had seated himself in the centre of the circle upon the large skull”


Caption: “There’s an old woman dwells upon Tappington Moor.”

If you enjoy these beautiful Rackham illustrations, his Wikipedia page has an extensive list of his work.

The Owners of The Ingoldsby Legends


A few weeks ago with another Fondren librarian, I went searching through our stacks for spooky book bindings and illustrations. One of the standouts included The Ingoldsby Legends by Thomas Ingoldsby aka Richard Harris Barham. I’m going to break up this book into three blog posts on the owners of the first edition, its illustrations, and the 1929 version with illustrations by Arthur Rackham.

First let’s look at the owners of the book.



John Leveson Douglas Stewart of Glenogil, Angus, Scotland August 1, 1842 – 1887 was the first owner. Since the book published in 1840, he was probably not the original one.


Then, the book fell into the hands of Sir Herbert Henry Raphael a British barrister (1859 – 1924).

At some point even between the two owners mentioned or at a later time, the book ended up at the W. Heffer & Sons Ltd. Booksellers in Cambridge, England. Raphael did attend school in Cambridge, but that doesn’t mean he purchased it at that time.


Before coming here, its last owner was Fleming L. Mays who gifted it in October 1953. I was unable to find out anything about him. Please let us know in the comments if you know more.

Somewhere along the line, someone decided to spruce up this book. In the final pages, there is the original spine and cover. It now sports a calf leather cover with gilding.



Sunrise Is Coming After While


Our Limited Editions Club copy of Sunrise Is Coming After While consists of poems by Langston Hughes selected by Maya Angelou with silkscreens by collage artist Phoebe Beasley. It is an excellent example of the beautiful rare books created by that company.




With Hughes’ famous “The Negro Speaks of Rivers,” Beasley’s silkscreens both comment and add to the poem.




This amazing copy is 82/300 and signed by Beasley and Angelou.

Upcoming Projects


2017 was an incredibly busy year for the Woodson. It included completing an inventory of all of our rare books, creating new online and physical exhibits, growing our fine arts and Jewish history collections, exhibiting the history of Camp Logan, placing the KTRU Rice Radio archive online, co-hosting the Houston Folk Music Archive Celebration with the Friends of Fondren Library, participating in the Oh Project collection, and helping our Fondren Fellow discover and map the hidden bits of information in our Civil War diaries.

Here’s some of what’s coming up in 2018:

  • We’re continuing our participation in the OSSArcFlow project to improve our digital preservation workflows and discoverability.
  • We’re going to be the home base for the Harvey Memories Project. This multi-institutional group will working to document the stories, images, audio, and video related to Hurricane Harvey. We will be taking the lead in digitally preserving any donated items.
  • We will be making new collections available for research from Audrey Jones Beck, Brochstein, Inc., and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston [CAMH].
  • We’ve continued to work with the Chao Center and are expecting new additions and improvements to the Houston Asian American Archive website.
  • Starting last year, we began working on our legacy media backlog. Over the past few months, the old floppies and zip disks have been preserved. Soon, our finding aids will contain descriptions of the files contained on that media.

As we complete some of the projects above and add new ones, we’ll update you on the results. Here’s to a great 2018.

Poet’s Club Books


The Poet’s Club established around 1908 published four volumes of poetry. One of the founding members’, T.E. Hulme, poetry in the volumes is an early version of Imagism.

The first volume appears to be an advanced copy of what would end up being their second book entitled The Second Book of the Poet’s Club, Christmas 1911. Our version is The Book of the Poet’s Club, Michaelmas 1911. Released a few months before it contains all of the same poetry, except the editors added four poems for the second book.


Note contained in our version of the first volume

This first book only seems to exist elsewhere in the Ezra Pound Papers at Yale University. Given that he was a member of the group, it makes sense that a working copy of the manuscript is there.

Another interesting aspect of these books is the amount of female writers. In the first, there are at least six easily identifiable woman, which include: Katherine Miller, Sibyl Amherst, Marion Cran, Dollie Radford, Lily Hodgkinson, Regina Miriam Bloch, and Florence Farr. Given the celebrity of actress, producer, director Farr, here is her entry.



We also have The Third Book of the Poet’s Club, Christmas 1913. Although Houston’s winter does not compare, a winter poem seems fitting for this time of year.